At Optima®, we celebrate the rich tapestry of cultures and the arts that surround our vibrant communities. One such cultural gem that resonates with our values of innovation, diversity, and community engagement is the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Scottsdale. MIM stands as a testament to the universal language of music, offering a unique journey through the musical traditions of over 200 countries.

Founded by Bob Ulrich, the former CEO of Target Corporation, MIM was conceived from a desire to create a museum unlike any other — a place that would showcase the instruments played daily by people around the world, not just historic or classical pieces from the West. This vision materialized into a world-class museum that houses over 7,500 instruments, each telling its own story of cultural heritage, craftsmanship, and the universal expressiveness of music.

Instruments from Northwest China
Instruments from Northwest China. Credit: ksblacc99, Flickr Creative Commons, Public Domain Mark 1.0 Universal

MIM’s exhibits are designed to be visually captivating and so much more; they are immersive experiences that engage all senses. As you stroll through the galleries, you’re invited to see the instruments, hear their sounds, and watch them being played in their cultural context. This sensory journey highlights the profound way music influences our emotions and connects us across different cultures and histories.

Architectural Harmony
The architecture of MIM itself mirrors the diversity and harmony of the instruments it houses. Designed by Rich Varda and the team at Varda Architecture, the building is a masterful blend of space, texture, and light, crafted to enhance the visitor experience and complement the musical exhibits. From the sandstone walls that echo the Southwest’s topography to the “piano key” patterns adorning the windows, every element is infused with musical symbolism. The central corridor, named El Río, with its meandering path, and the rotunda with an inlaid world map, invite visitors to embark on a global musical voyage.

Elvis' Boots
Elvis’ Boots. Credit: ksblacc99, Flickr Creative Commons, Public Domain Mark 1.0 Universal

Beyond its architectural beauty and extensive collection, MIM is committed to education and community engagement. It’s not just about preserving musical heritage; MIM aims to enrich our understanding of the world by demonstrating how music is a vital part of human life everywhere. Through dynamic programming and live performances, MIM offers a platform where guests can experience music’s evolving nature and its capacity to bring people together.

A Community of Harmony
For residents of Optima®’s Scottsdale communities, MIM represents an opportunity to explore and appreciate global cultures through the lens of music. It’s a place where parents can take their children to learn about the world’s diversity, where friends can gather to enjoy live performances, and where everyone can feel a connection to the global community. The museum’s mission to make music accessible and enjoyable aligns perfectly with Optima®’s commitment to creating spaces where life can be enjoyed to the fullest.

As MIM continues to grow and evolve, it remains an inspired vision for cultural enrichment and education, reflecting the innovative spirit that characterizes both the museum and the communities at Optima®. Whether you’re a seasoned musician, a curious explorer, or someone seeking a new understanding of the world, MIM offers a rich, engaging experience that resonates with the soulful rhythm of our shared human experience.

MIM is located at 4745 E. Mayo Boulevard in Phoenix. It is open daily, 9:00am – 5:00pm. Visit their website to learn more about their current exhibitions and programs.